Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sicodelico Sounds of Peru's LOS HOLY'S

Seeing as how Latin America's Day of The Dead festivities begin today and go thru Nov. 2, now's the perfect time to rock out to these juvenile delinquents from, of all places, Lima, Peru. Trashy surf/garage sounds from the 1960s, all instrumental reverb and fuzz guitars and sleazy electric organ, with one song ("Holy's Psicodelicos") even featuring a theremin. "Campo De Vampiros" is the appropriate party-starter by these Dia de Los Muertos daddy-o's.  

I would be interested to know how Los Holy's (sic) fit into Peruvian culture of the time. Were they considered makers of no-good teen trash by the mainstream culture, but revered as cool cats by the kids?  Or was this stuff so foreign to their society that they were playing a kind of 'world music,' without any of the controversy that this kind of primitive rock created north of the border?

Los Holys "Sueno Sicodelico" (1967)

1. Campo De Vampiros
2. Sueno Sicodelico
3. Melodia Encantada
4. Reunion Psicodelica [a cover of the Markett's Space-Age surf classic "Out of Limits"]
5. Piedra De Doce Angulos
6. Hawaii Five-O
7. El Hombre Desnudo
8. Holy's Psicodelicos
9. The High Chaparral [cover of the '50s movie theme "Moulin Rouge"]
10. Psicodelico Desconocido  [cover of the Meters' funky soul groover "Sissy Strut"]
11. Spectro I
12. Choque De Vientos

(Muchas gracias to El Count Otto Negro!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Groovy World Of Marcia Strassman

The recent news about the passing of actress Marcia Strassman payed little heed to her short, strange music career. She recorded a few singles in the late '60s, including one of my all-time fave examples of...what's a word for something that you know is awful, but love it just the same? Maybe there isn't one. (Let's invent one!) Whatever it is, that's what Strassman's "The Flower Children" is. This 1967 Uni records 45, one of those only-in-the-'60s odes to the counter-culture, was one of the last gasps of the big-hair, lushly produced girl-group sounds. Soon the flat-haired, acoustic guitar strumming singer-songwriters would take over. But not before Mrs. Kotter sang the hell out of this ridiculous number, redeeming it thru her passion and sincerity (and a great arrangement). It was a hit in California, if nowhere else.

The equally ludicrous follow-up, "The Groovy World of Jack and Jill," similarly has a swell pseudo-Phil Spector sound. And, really, I like all of her records (tho surprisingly, a  Kim Fowley production ["Stargazer"] is a bit of a dud.) How can you not like such choice lines as: "My toys are all dead, but my friend is here/nothing is wrong with me" (from the song "Self-Analysis").

Even more tragic than her early death from cancer - the fact that her frog-voiced "Welcome Back Kotter" co-star John Travolta was the one with the far more successful musical career. A great record like "The Flower Children" languishes in obscurity, while that execrable "Grease" soundtrack lives on. Won't someone please think of the children?!
Marcia Strassman - Singles (1967-68)

1. The Flower Children
2. Out Of The Picture
3. The Groovy World of Jack and Jill
3. The Flower Shop
4. Self-Analysis
5. Stargazer

This isn't a complete discography. I am missing one of her songs: "Flower Shop." Anyone, anyone..?  Mega-thanks to super-reader Holly for supplying not only the missing song, but higher-bitrate copies of the other songs AND the artwork!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The BAT Pack: A Halloween Mix

Rockin' soul, surf, lounge, jazz, comedy, novelties, outsider oddities, movie ads and dialogue clips...hey kids, it's a '50s/'60s lowbrow All Hallow's Eve! Inc. dusty vinyl corpses robbed from my tomb, er, record closet, that I attached electrodes to and ripped to mp3. Featuring such creatures as: Mort Garson on the Moog; schoolkids singing about stealing trick-or-treaters' candy bags; a song-poem called "Vampire Husband;" Lon Chaney Jr "singing" the theme to the classic cult film "Spider Baby;" a James Brown rip-off; visits to Japan (The Golden Cups) and France; two different songs called "Surfin' Hearse," and jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones doing a goofy Dracula bit inspired by Lenny Bruce. And then you've got Bobby Christian's infamous "The Spider and the Fly," described by Lenny "Nuggets" Kaye as the most demented record ever made. (And who am I to disagree?)

The BAT Pack

01 "Horror of the Zombies"
02 Guy Marks (as Bela) - Begin the Beguine
03 Lon Chaney - Song From Spider Baby 
04 "bloodbeast"
05 Bobby Christian and the Allen Sisters - The Spider and the Fly
06 Richard Rome - Ghost a go go
07 The Quads - Surfin' Hearse
08 Jan and Dean -Surfin' Hearse
09 "Lady Frankenstein"
10 Serge Gainsbourg - Docteur Jekyll & Mister Hyde
11 Helen O'Connell - Witchcraft
12 Bela LaGoldstein - Old Boris
13 the Ventures - Exploration in Terror
14 "Dr.Tarr's Torture Dungeon"
15 Arthur Prysock - (I Don't Stand) A Ghost of a Chance
16 Alvino Rey - The Bat
17 "Brain that Wouldn't Die"
18 Little Tibia and the Fibulas - The Mummy
19 Happy Monsters - Clap Your Tentacles
20 The Golden Cups - Spooky
21 Jack Marshall - The Teen-Age Surfing Vampire 
22 The Ramrods - (Ghost) Riders in the Sky
23 "Bloody Pit of Horror"
24 Nancy Dupree with Ghetto Reality students - Bag Snatchin'
25 Mort Garson as The Blobs - Son of Blob
26 Shelley Stuart & The Five Stars - Vampire Husband
27 Cre-shells - Dracula
28 "Frenzy of Blood"
29 Philly Joe Jones - Blues for Dracula
30 Guy Marks (as Boris) - Don't Take Your Love From Me

(FANGS a lot to Count Otto for a couple of these. Art by Shag.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Singing TV Horror-Show Hosts

In 1953, the late Maila Nurmi aka Vampira invented that beloved American tradition, the TV horror host. Did other countries pick up on this concept? Low budget local stations filled their late night or weekend afternoon slots with crappy old movies, usually, but not always, of the monster variety. The shows were hosted by a smart aleck in a costume traipsing about a cobwebbed castle/ laboratory/etc set, interrupting the proceedings to make jokes, perform in skits, read letters from viewers, perhaps interact with other cast members/puppets, or, in the case of Cleveland's Ghoulardi, blow things up. And many of them made records: Vampira, her bastard offspring Elvira, John "The Cool Ghoul" Zacherle, and the lass featured below, who made one of the most perfect 45s ever.

This interview with the author of a new book about Vampira makes the case that Nurmi was the ultimate hip chick, a bad-ass beatnik who was just too hot for mainstream tv audiences to handle. After listening to the podcast (not too long, even at an hour's length), I rented "Vampira And Me," a documentary from last year based on interviews with Nurmi. The late '80s/early '90s L.A. band Satans' Pilgrims are featured. I'd long known about the records they made with Vampira, but didn't realize that most of the 'lyrics' were taken from found religious tracts. "Tribute to Elvis," however, is Nurmis' own recollections of her friendship with The King, one of many celebs entranced by her proto-goth beauty.

Why did so much insane music come out of Ohio in the '70s? David Thomas of Pere Ubu cites the influence of a popular Cleveland horror host. Ubu, The Dead Boys, Devo, the Cramps (especially The Cramps), etc. were the Ghoulardi generation, kids weened on Ernie Anderson's anarchic character who played wild garage rock records, and would blow up things with firecrackers on the air, much to the dismay of the station management. Oddly enough, my first-hand memory of Anderson is after he quit Ghoulardi to be the ABC network announcer - that was his leering voice announcing "The Loooove Boat." (Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson is his son.)

The tradition lives on. Elvira's comeback show in 2011 was great, but short-lived, even with Jack White contributing a theme song, and even a brief on-air appearance.

Quoth Ghoulardi: "Stay sick!"

Horror Hosts - A MusicForManiacs Collection

01 Ghoulardi - "Intro"
02 Vampira - Genocide Utopia (with Satan's Cheerleaders)
03 John Zacherle - Dinner With Drac (the still-living/performing New York host made quite a few records; this was his most popular)
04 Tarantula Ghoul and the Gravediggers - Graveyard Rock (Portland's answer to Vampira was originally known as Tarantula Girl)
05 Bill Cardille - Chilly Billy's vamp (1971 Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater host)
06 Dr. Sarcofiguy - My Girlfriend Is On Fire (a few years ago we wrote about this contemporary cat)
07 Elvira - Zombie Stomp (from 1995)
08 Ghoulardi - "cool it with the boom booms"
09 Vampira - I'm Damned (with Satan's Cheerleaders)
10 Tarantula Ghoul - King Kong
11 John Zacherly - Monster Monkey
12 Count Floyd - Treat Her Like A Lady (parody of a '70s disco hit; the great Joe Flaherty playing the host of the fictional SCTV network's "Monster Chiller Horror Theater")
13 Ghoulardi - "acid "
14 John Zacherly - Come With Me to Transylvania
15 Elvira - Zombie Killer (with Leslie and the Lys)
16 Vampira - Tribute to Elvis (with Satan's Cheerleaders)
17 John Zacherly - Happy Halloween

"Screaming relaxes me so..."

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band

"Bernie Green plays More Than You Can Stand In Hi Fi" is back on line.

This cheerfully eccentric band of refugees from the UCLA jazz program made just this one  1974 album, perhaps never fully realizing their potential.  Their role models, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and the Bonzo Dog Band, were only just getting warmed up on their first releases. Tho they suffer a bit from the "we're so wacky!!" affliction, but they get a pass, as there are far too few musical anarchists like this who have the chops to play jazz and classical but make the noble decision to throw away all artistic 'credibility' in the name of eclecticism and absurdist humor. And the Roto Rooters were def on the right track, showing a healthy irreverence towards classic rock ("Purple Haze") and classic classics ("The Sabre Dance"), covering campy oldies like Shirley Temple's "On The Good Ship Lollipop" and singing cowboy Roy Roger's signature sign-off song "Happy Trails." (Supposedly Van Halen got the idea to end their shows with "Happy Trails" from these guys.) For some reason folkie label Vanguard Records put this one out. Granted, they also released Perrey & Kingsley's Space Age Moog-sterpieces, but still, a strange choice, and perhaps no surprise that this album sold about 12 copies before dropping off the planet.  (My recently-purchased copy was still in the shrink-wrap!) 

 If we extend the definition of the pre-punk L.A. 'Freak Scene' beyond Zappa's immediate circle of outsiders and oddballs (Wild Man Fischer, Cap. Beefheart, The GTO's, etc). we'll find plenty of like-minded loonies that followed in their wake, inc. The Los Angeles Free Music Society, the art/music axis of Mike Kelley/Jim Shaw/Destroy All Monsters, radio host/music archivist Dr. Demento, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Zoogz Rift, the Rhino Records label, and these chaps. What the 'freaks' had in common was a rejection of the SanFran 'hippie' attitude, a love of old-timey musics, jazz /improvisation and avant-classical, and a whacked-out sense of humor. They may have liked some psych rock, but had no interest in being 'mellow', they were in-your-face cynical smart-asses. Raised on 'Mad' magazine, they were among the first to realize that the 20th century had already produced a huge slew of ignored pop-cultural waste - monster movies, thrift-store records, bad TV - just waiting to be creatively recycled. 'Avant-tarde,' decades before that phrase was coined. Jazz music had just died after the glorious supernova of electric Miles, H. Hancock, etc, and had quickly settled into it's current bland 'smooth-jazz' zombie-fied afterlife, rock had not yet experienced the punk Big Bang that would create a viable DIY culture, and the classical avant-garde was snugly tucked into it's academic ivory tower. There wasn't much 'alternative' culture at the time - you had to swim in the mainstream, or quickly sink into obscurity. And much of the above-mentioned stuff was indeed pretty obscure. Even the 'famous' names like Captain Beefheart never rose above the club/mid-size venue level, and certainly never came near the Top 40.

But there was one glimmer of independence - the afore-mentioned Dr. Demento show. A Sunday night radio show from LA specializing in comedy/novelty records that became a fixture on virtually every American FM rock station, "The Dr. Demento Show" was geared towards youngsters, and admittedly featured plenty of sophomoric yuks. But it was also a free-form free-wheeling forum for strange and forgotten sounds of any era or genre, from old 78s to unsolicited demos. Barry Hansen (Dr. D.) would actually listen to anything that hit his mailbox. The RRGCB sent in one such tape and became the first of his discoveries, quickly becoming the house band for the show. Their version of a Dr. D. hit, the great Big Band oddity "Pico and Sepulveda" (included on this album) became the program's theme song. They also provided incidental music for the show, such as the weekly top ten/Funny Five jingles. For lots of videos (inc. an otherwise unwaxed cover of "Jollity Farm") check out their

And they don't play any Christmas songs.

The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band

A1Fanfare/Buick LeSabre Dance
A2Martian March
A3On The Good Ship Lollipop
A4Hungarian Dance No. 5
A5South Of The Border
A6Love Me
A7Pico & Sepulveda
A8The Band Played On (And On)
B1Swamp Lake
B2Purple Haze
B3The Beer Bottle Polka
B5Overture & The Rite Of Spring
B6Happy Trails To You/March Of The Cuckoos

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sounds Of The American Fast Food Restaurants

As a follow-up to last months' posting of Gregg Turkington's Sounds of San Francisco Adult Bookstores is the equally silly:

The Golding Institute-Sounds Of The American Fast Food Restaurants (1996)

17 minutes of barely discernible audio recorded "in the field" in a KFC, McDonalds, Jack in the Box, etc., tho Turkington's droll, incisive, funny narration is again the star of the show.

Narrator [Introduction By] – Golding Institute, The, Ryan Kerr

A2KFC (6th Avenue & Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA)
A3Jack In The Box (11th Avenue & Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA)
A4Taco Bell (Highway One, Pacifica, CA)
A5Nation's Giant Hamburger (Westlake Mall, Daly City, CA)
A6Subway (Skyline Plaza, Daly City, CA)
B1Hot Dog On A Stick (Stonestown Mall, San Fancisco, CA)
B2McDonald's (Stonestown Mall, San Francisco, CA)
B3Burger King (John Daly Boulevard, Daly City, CA)
B4Straw Hat Pizza (Westlake Mall, Daly City, CA)
B5Round Table Pizza (Oceana Boulevard, Pacifica, CA)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Christmas 2001: A Space-Age Adventure

The "Space-Age Santa" collection from a couple Christmases ago featured a track "from a kiddie xian xmas album that I found in a thrift-shop called "Christmas 2001: A Space-Age Adventure"; I actually digitized the whole thing, but, believe me, you don't need to hear it." Well,apparently someone DID need to hear it cuz yesterday I got this comment: "I would do anything to hear "Christmas 2001: A Space-Age Adventure" again. My children's choir at church performed this in December of '79. You said you digitized it... Is it something I could hear?" 

You'd do ANYTHING, eh..?  *Makes diabolical face, rubs hands together* Mwa-ha-ha-haaa! Oh, all right, here it is:

Flo Price - Christmas 2001 A Space-Age Adventure

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

UnPop Music - A MusicForManiacs Sampler

All music that isn't classical, jazz or ethnic/folk is 'pop', meaning 'popular.' Except when it isn't. Here are some new releases you should run out and buy (and some not-so-new ones that I slept on) that have everything a pop song should have: brevity, melodic vocals, toe-tappin' beats, clean production, energy...heck, even danceability. Everything except actual popularity. Mostly these are tuneful tunes sporting very funny, clever lyrics (perhaps too witty for the masses), with a kouple of kooky kovers thrown in.

UnPop Music - A MusicForManiacs Sampler

1. ac00perw - "Smells Like Teens": Nirvana re-imagined as sleazy Steely Dan-type '70s soft-rock.
2. Iggy Pop - "Monster Men (les zinzins de l'espace)": In 1997, The Iggster sang the theme song to a French kid's cartoon show called "Space Goofs;" how punk is that?!
3. Jens Lekman - "A Higher Power": great bad rhymes, from this Scandanavian's 2004 album entitled (speaking of Iggy) "When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog."
4. Larry Gallagher - "I'm Sorry for What My People Did to Your People": wickedly funny Tom Lehrer-esque satire, from the album "Can I Go Now?"
5. Maya Beiser - "Back In Black": from the new album "Uncovered" of massed overdubbed  cellos playing instrumental versions of rock and blues hits; I'm not really sure why this exists. Dig the video of her cello-riffic cover of Led Zeps' "Kashmir" below.
6. One And Seven Eighths - "Pegasus (The Camping Waltz)": Most tracks on their album "Modern Camping Songs" are real nice ambient/abstract electro instros, but this brilliant novelty is the best thing that Viv Stanshell never did.
7. O-Type - "Stupido": New vinyl re-issue of this MX-80 Sound spin-off sounds like a lot of other '80s noise rockers, until the vocalist starts channeling a panoply of fascinating, horrific characters, e.g.: the hapless protagonist of this song, rendered in a 'retarded guy' voice at once funny and disturbing.
8. Sid Ozalid - "Elephant in a Sack": Frequent contributor Count Otto Black slipped us these short, silly tracks from one of his fellow Scotsmen, an oddball known more for poetry than music; from "Songs & Stories From a Suitcase", the 1982 EP by Sid Ozalid & His Legendary All-Stars.
9. Sid Ozalid - "My Tortoise Can Burst Into Flames"
10. Sid Ozalid - "This is the Story of the Missing Jacket"
11. Twink The Toy Piano Band - _{ ·_ U _· }_: The latest from the master of toy-tronica has a cute album cover/title ("Critter Club"), cute tarot-like cards of animals, cute song titles (all typographic symbols), but a decidedly more mature sound; the large supporting cast features a number of horn players, giving excellent tunes like this one an almost jazz feel. They grow so fast!

(Thanks again, Count!)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

FILTHY FRIDAYS: Halloween Instrumentals (2 Disks: 60 Tracks)

Another request satisfied: for what is possible the strangest comedy album ever, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan

And another weekend is upon us, presenting you-all with yet another opportunity to temporarily (or not?) cast aside your nerdly pursuits and let our continuing survey of mid-century sleazy-listening musics help turn you - yes, you! In the Spock ears - into the heppest cat or kittie on the block. This real real gone assortment of surf, garage, r'n'b, soundtrack themes, and assorted radio ads is packed with both stars (Joe Meek's Moontrekkers*, The Ventures), and forgotten regional releases. Rock'n'roll as it should be, before it went middle-class and respectable.

Need something to look at while listening? The great lowbrow artist J.R. Williams put these comps together, so eyeball his way-out artworks. (Wish so many weren't sold out - I gotta get that Uncle Fester one.)

J.R has added a few more goodies for your trick-or-treat bag at the bottom of the page.

Halloween Instrumentals (CD 1)
Halloween Instrumentals (CD 2)

But wait! There's more! Dig these short mixes, for ghouls on the go:

Cool Ghouls mix:  J.R.'s Fun House (formerly "J.R.'s Prints of Darkness"): Cool Ghoul mp3 mix
J.R.'s Fun House (formerly "J.R.'s Prints of Darkness"):...
Roland - Billy Duke & the Dukes Dinner With Drac - John Logan Dance Along With Dracula (Doin' the Drac) - The Monstrosities Casa A Go Go - Count Von Shukker...
Preview by Yahoo
J.R.'s Fun House (formerly "J.R.'s Prints of Darkness"):...
My Girl Friend Is a Witch - October Country Draculena - Aaron McNeill The Monster Miss - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis My Baby's Got a Crush on Frankenstein - Soupy Sal...
Preview by Yahoo

FANGS a million to J.R. Williams for all this ghastly goodness.

 *The record was banned by the BBC as being "unsuitable for people of a nervous disposition"